Castello Saraceno is on the top of the rock Monte Tauro, overlooking Taormina and its surroundings. According to to tradition it was built by Arabs, however, nothing much is known about the period in which the castle was made. It s possible that the Muslims had their stronghold in the castle in 1079 during the siege by the Normans. The exterior walls have been preserved very well, while the interiors are almost all collapsed.
Naxos used to be the Greek colony, founded in the eighth century B.C., and destroyed by the Syracusans three centuries later. There are important remains from that period in this small town now called Giardini Naxos, but thanks to our guide we havent seen abything of it. It was much more important for him to take the whole group at the local restaurant, in order to collect the provvision.
Nowadays Giardini Naxos is important beach resort of the Ionian coast with it's beautiful its sickle-shaped beach.
Excursion into maffia country
Savoca is a village, beautifully situated about 4 km inland between Taormina and Messina. The village was used in The Godfather as the setting of Michael Corleone's wedding to Apollonia. In the picture is Bar Vitelli, also used in the film. You can still sit there and have a drink while taking in the peacefull village life.
- Road Trip
A small volcano north of Etna once woke and poured enormous quantities of lava which flowed down to the sea. The lava flows were followed by a torrent of water which ploughed a channel thru it, smoothing the lava and clearing away the aggregate.
The name of the river Al Qantarah dates back to the period of Arab occupation and refers to the arched bridge built by Romans.
Gole dell'Alcantara 2
The gorge is accessible when the water level is low. At the entrance to the gorge wanders can be hired. The water in the river claimed to be freezing cold, however it didn't seem to me. Maybe because it was cloudy and water/air temperature difference wasn't that drastic.
Under normal conditions it is possible to walk up river from May until September. During the rest of the year, only the entrance to the gorge is accessible. There is a lift to take visitors back up to the top of gorge.
The entrance fee without wanders and guide is about 2,50 eur.
Gole dell'Alcantara 3
While descending you can admire beautiful views. You can wonder as well downstairs along the shallow and clear waters of the river. However climbing polished lava stones might be dangerous, they are really slippery, they hard to climb with bare feet.
HOW TO GET THERE: Driving from the South to the North along SS114 just a kilometer before Giardini Naxos turn left following the signs of Gole.
Near Gole there is parking, small restaurant and cafe.
This scenic Alcantara Gorge is located on the Alcantara River north of Mount Etna near Taormina off Route 185.
This beautiful rock formation, composed of basalt, was created by volcanic activity.
Lido Spisone is one of the beach resorts of Taormina, connected by funivia (cableway) with the center of the town. Besides its beauty, the beach is characteristic for the black coloured lava rocks which finished here after one of the big eruptions of nearby volcano Mount Etna.
Lido spisone is touristy resort offering accomodation in a number of small hotels and pensions, situated very close to the beach and surrounded by oranges and lemons ardens.
Castelmola is village perched above Taormina, offering a balcony over the town and the bay of Giardini Naxos. On its other side the village is framed by the mysterious and still active volcano Mount Etna. It can be reached from Taormina by walking path, takes one hour of time, or by the local bus. I didn't visit it but according to the pictures I've seen the village is very beautiful.
Not long ago (until 1970) Giardini Naxos used to be quiet fishing village, but now it is a popular fourist destination famous for its beaches, panoramic view of the bay and surrounding hills. Along with Lido Spisone and Isola Bella, Girdini Naxos makes a complex of Taormina's beach resorts. The seafront of the bay, called Via Tysandros, is lined with hotels, smaller pensions, restaurants and pubs.
There aren't many
Finding off the beaten paths is very difficult in a such touristy place like taormina. But there are some places where less tourists go. You can find them in the hills around taormina.
- Hiking and Walking
Gola di Alcantara
If you have a car, go check out the Gola (throat) of Alcantara. This is a cavern carved out by a river with some amazing designs in the rock.
Isola Bella - Baia delle Sirene
Isola Bella is also known as Baia delle Sirene (the Gulf of Syrens). It is nature and beach resort of Taormina, actually the most attractive beach reasort of the city....
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